Sunday, July 30, 2006

Aislin's Genius

Friday, July 28, 2006

The CBC ... Again

Here I go again ranting about the CBC.

I hadn't watched CBC News for days.

Before yesterday the last time was Sunday. It was because the CBC has that endearing habit of stopping a film Sunday night half an hour before its end to bring you the news. I didn't want to miss the continuation of the movie. CBC News can only be postponed for a US "reality show" not for the enjoyment of CBC viewers watching a movie. (No kidding. The National was some time ago.)

I haven't watched any news on other TV stations either for that matter. I get my information from the web and print sources these days. From the conservative Jerusalem Post to Gush Shalom. From BBC to CNN. I also benefit from discussions in a "chatroom", Bread And Roses. (In case you want to know, my user name is Luke.)

Yesterday, I tuned into CBC by accident when I tried to launch the "personal video recorder" component of my WinFast capture card. It was close to the end of the news at noon and a spokesperson for the Canadian Armed Forces was talking about the tragic death of the Canadian soldier in Lebanon. Sad as every needless death is I have to ask myself why the CBC did not report if when a whole Canadian family got wiped out by Israeli fire.

It happened days ago and was reported in the Georgia Straight five days before the CBC newscast I am referring to.

An Israeli warplane, participating in an air-and-sea offensive upon Lebanon, lobbed a missile into a house in the South Lebanese village of Aitaroun. Eleven members of Dalal Akhras’s family—her cousins and their wives and children—were inside. Seven of them, all visiting from Canada, died immediately. The Beirut media later reported that four more relatives perished from their injuries.

My emphasis

Why did the CBC not report the death of seven Canadians?

If the CBC had a report on this I apologise. I highly doubt there was one.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What could one possibly write about all this?


Absolutely nothing.

And so the mass murder continues and continues and ...

While we ??

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

9-11: Who Is Responsible?

Conspiracy Theories

I am not some conspiracy theory nut but they do exist at times. (We wouldn't have laws against conspiracies if they had never happened.) The term itself is a loaded one, often used by right wingers to dismiss claims by lefties.

Also, I'm not saying that 9-11 was an American conspiracy not an attack by Al-Quaeda. But there are so many unanswered questions that everybody's eyebrows should be raised.

Why The Towers Fell, done by Nova, is a non-conspiracy-theory explanation of the collapse of the towers and has interesting footage to watch.

I watched a show with the very first suggestion that there might be a conspiracy involved beforeI became aware of this Nova/PBS documentary linked to in the previous paragraph. It's an episode of The Fifth Estate called Conspiracy Theories and conspiracy, or not, - just in passing - it's odd that Bush senior was in a meeting with a cousin (or brother) of Osama when the towers got hit, isn't it?

Remember, I am not convinced, just suspicious! But having watched more videos and disasters than I care to remember I have to wonder about many aspects, the collapse of No 7 WTC not being the least.

The US government relies on Popular Mechanics, better known as a geek magazine, for information to refute doubters of the official story. (There are several parts all linked to on this US government site.) I find this strange as it is not a scholarly, scientific, publication but a magazine popularising science and technology. There is a difference.

It is all truly frightening that one can even consider, because of some evidence, the possibility of such monstrous crimes and may indeed seem outlandish. But do consider the track record of Bush&Cheney et al. Many people warned about the seemingly unending human disaster in Iraq before these criminals unleashed the invasion. They did it just the same and we all know how profitable it is for lots of corporations.

Money talks and always has.

If you are interested, have a lot of time to waste, I recommend you watch these videos. (Some of them are quite long) The urls did work when I used them but might not work when you'll try; it has happened to me before. In this case just google the title and you shall find what you're seeking.

Loose Change Second ed. A must see in my opinion.

911 Eyewitness A must see in my opinion.

Listen to the sound of explosions, look at puffs of smoke indicating explosions and listen to a janitor of the WTC giving testimony about an explosion he claims to have heard on the lowest level underground, i.e. where one would place explosives if one wanted to demolish a building in a controlled way, just before he heard the plane slam into the building. The audio tape of a fireman that wasn't released by the government for years (why???) can also be heard.

Controlled Demolitions A must see in my opinion.

9-11 Official report. It does not offer an explanation for the collapse of No7. No plane hit it. Why was it destroyed?

Have a look where No 7 is located

WTC no 7

More About WTC no 7

9-11 Review

9-11 True Story

Improbable collapse claims to represent both sides fairly.

Why did it take so long for the pictures of the Pentagon to be released? Why was such a lousy image released at first where one could hardly see any detail? Why is the lawn intact? Didn't the plane skid along the ground before slamming into the Pentagon.

How Building Implosions Work

Scientific Papers And Lots Of Links

Criticism of the conspiracy nuts

Laughable criticsm because the buildings did not collapse that way:

This criticism dismissed here

Continued here

Monday, July 24, 2006

More evidence that this murderous assault is being done with Washingon's blessing

Apparently it was all planned a long time ago.

We know now that Israel’s plan of attack was “finalized more than a year ago” and that Hezbollah’s capturing of the 2 Israeli soldiers was merely a pretext to execute their strategy. Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University clarified this point saying, “Of all Israel’s wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared. In a sense, the preparation began in 2000, immediately after the Israeli withdrawal.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving Power-point presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to US and other diplomats, journalists and think-tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail.”

Although this simply confirms what most serious analysts suspected from the beginning, it is still interesting on many levels. For one thing, we can be sure that top ranking officials in the Bush administration (including George Bush) not only knew of the plan, but tacitly endorsed the invasion of a friendly country who posed no threat to national security. We can also assume that the battle-plans were carefully orchestrated with Washington so that Bush could co-opt the leaders at the G-8 meetings while Israel pummeled its vulnerable neighbor.

One wonders how a "peace group" like Peace Now can be in support of all this. I used to respect them. The deafening silence about all this on their website speaks volumes.

Gush Shalom seems to be the only sane voice in Israel, at least it's the only sane one I know of.

How much worse can it get?

Who are the terrorists?

Ambulances fired on by Israel, says Red Cross

The Red Cross in Tyre said that five of its volunteers and three patients were wounded when Israeli aircraft attacked two ambulances on Sunday night. The attack took place near Qana when an ambulance from Tyre arrived to evacuate three patients from the border town of Tibnin.

The drivers said that two guided missiles were fired at each ambulance. Three patients - a woman, her son and grandson - were all re-injured, the son losing his leg to a direct hit from one of the kinetic-energy anti-tank missiles.

Ambulance drivers - until Sunday night the only people able to drive out into the killing zone - report that the roads around Tibnin are strewn with wrecked vehicles and uncollected bodies. The Red Cross has now been forced to abandon all attempts to rescue wounded from Tibnin.

Attempt to ensnare Iran?

I'm apparently not alone to think that this is orchestrated by Washington. Well, it's not exactly what the BBC is saying but, I repeat, Israel could never do this if the Americans opposed it. Or it wouldn't because of the price - financial and otherwise - it would pay. At the very least they have the American OK for the war crimes they are commiting.

Israel's use of overwhelming force against targets in Lebanon during this conflict has led some experts to argue that the crisis was not set in motion by Iran but is, rather, a pre-emptive trap by Israel to ensnare Iran.

Keep in mind the war-like noises Washington has been making about Iran as part of the "Axis of Evil" for years.
The British too are happily sending arms to Israel.

Business is business, isn't it? And war has always been about business.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Civilian casualties

A lot of adult civilians have been blasted out of their homes and their neighborhoods and their cars. More and more every day. According to U.N. Development Fund for Women, 15 percent of wartime casualties in World War I were civilians. In World War II, 65 percent were civilians. By the mid '90s, over 75 percent of wartime casualties were civilians. In Iraq, for every dead U.S. soldier, there are 14 other deaths, 93 percent of them are civilian.
From: Brecher, Jeremy, Cutler , Jill, Smith, Brendan, In the Name of Democracy, pp. 203 - 205, What the Rest of the World Watched on Inauguration Day by Sister Joan Chittister

Originally appeared in the National Catholic Reporter, January 27, 2005.
Copyright © 2005 by Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B.

In Lebanon almost all dead and wounded are civilians including many children and women. When this madness comes to an end we might find out the true cost in human lives but it's a safe prediction that almost a hundred percent of the vicitms are civilians. (In Israel too but their numbers are tiny compared to Lebanon.)

Added July 24th:

A recent report by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq estimated that 5,818 people were killed in violence in Iraq during May and June - an average of more than 100 civilians per day.

Israel might be creating the next Al-Qaeda

I read somewhere on the web recently that Israel's barbarity is creating the next Al-Qaeda just as the invasion of 1982 led to Hizbolla and I'm beginning to believe it.

Moreover, the kind of monster that is (possibly) being created might make Al-Qaeda look like a Sunday school.

Chomsky wrote in Failed States that the people in the White House don't give a damn about protecting their own population, or anybody else in the western world, against terrorist attacks. His arguments are very convincing and they are not based on some conspiracy theory as he gives evidence for this contention. Of course, like the thief in the department store, who shouts "hold the thief, hold the thief", while running away, western leaders and their propagandists in the media constantly tell us they are fighting terrorism.

Like hell they are.

Obviously, Israel has the green light from Washington for its destruction and mass murder in Lebanon and Gaza. It couldn't do otherwise what it is doing. Washington has obliged by rushing "precision-guided" (another lie; look at the civilian casualties) and satellite-guided (surely US satellites as I'm pretty sure Israel's satellites don't have that ability) bombs and missiles to the Middle East yesterday. Israel might even be acting under US instructions. (Stranger things have happened in international affairs.)

We might all pay the price for this.

Lots of fissile materials have gone missing during the collapse of the Soviet Union and I wouldn't be surprised if at this very moment some sick individual might be working on a nuclear device, a "dirty bomb", that will eventually kill thousands in the USA or elsewhere. And there are countless other ways of creating mayhem and destruction of property and people in industrial countries by turning their advanced technology against them. (Chemical industries, nuclear reactors pipelines etc. are vulnerable targets.)

Of course, the West has the weapons to pulverise any country that might give rise to another terrorist group. But they can't even get Afghanistan under control and the tragedy in Iraq is not showing any signs of abating. (Our Chief of Staff Hillier spoke of a ten year mission in Afghanistan.)

All this can't possibly be in the interests of the West, especially the situation in Iraq with its oil wealth.

So whose interests are being served if the above pessimistic expectations come to pass?


Why is there no mass upheaval in theWest to force an end (and that is entirely possible if the USA wanted it) to this madness?

I don't know and I don't understand the "silent" majority.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Events Which Happened On July 22

From the BBC with video links:

1977: Deng Xiaoping back in power

2005: Jean Charles de Menezes, who had nothing to do with the London bombings, shot dead by the police

From: Geov Parrish's this Day in Radical History -- July

July 22: Things that happened on this day that you never had to memorize in school

1877: General strike in St. Louis, part of railroad strike that paralyzed the country. Workers briefly seized control of the city.

1892: Alexander Berkman attempts to assassinate the despised Frick during Homestead Strike.

1917: Oil industry in Tampico, Mexico, shut down by successful IWW action.

1988: Fast breeder nuclear reactor shut down as unnecessary and uneconomic, Dounreay, Scotland.

1995: Four foreign activists break Israeli padlocks and reopen the main gates to Hebron University in the West Bank, closed by Israeli security in 1987. The gates remain open after the incident.

Stephen Harper And First Nations

Avant propos:

Many "Indians" resent the word. However, for historical reasons it is unavoidable in the Canadian context because "natives" or Aborginal include Inuit and Metis but the law treats them differently. I will not use quotation marks every time I use the word for better readability.

Stephen Harper Plays The Race Card

Most people would agree that a letter to the editor of a newspaper is not the proper way for a Prime Minister to announce major policy shifts. Furthermore, it is questionable behaviour not to accept the law as defined by Canadian courts. Stephen Harper did both in a letter published in the Calgary Herald on July 11, 2006 (the anniversary of the Surete du Quebec assault on the people in the Pines near Oka, an event seared in the memory of natives!). It doesn't matter at all that it was in response to a column by Mark Milke.

Mr. Harper wants to end native-only commercial fisheries. He wrote that " we will strike a judicial inquiry into the collapse of the Fraser River salmon fishery and oppose racially divided fisheries programs" even though the British Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that a native-only commercial fishery isn't race-based. That was less than a month before Harper's letter.

A senior official in Harper's office confirmed the plan even though Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn's department is on the verge of striking agreements with a number of First Nations communities for the summer harvest.

Phil Fontaine reacted by saying: "These rights were not accorded to First Nations on the basis of race, but on citizenship in a First Nation," said Fontaine. "We cannot discard the long-standing legal rights of First Nations."

In any case, many scientists think that the concept pertaining to humans, lacks taxonomic rigour and validity. They argue that race definitions are imprecise, arbitrary, derived from custom, and that the races observed vary according to the culture examined. They further maintain that "race" as such is best understood as a social construct.

The Pernicious Effects Of The Indian Act

This is particularly true of Canadian Indians for historical reasons. Indian women lost their Indian status when they married a non-Indian before 1985. Non-Indian women got Indian status when they married a man having Indian status. If their male offspring married a non-native woman the same happened again. So whatever validity the concept of race may have it certainly doesn't make much sense with respect to Indians in this country. That is without even mentioning the arbitrary divison of status and non-status Indians the former having been determined for quite some time by being a descendant of a nation that signed a treaty with the Crown. (It's a complex situation and many first nations people got 'status' in more recent years even though their ancestors did not sign treaties.)

Canadians are a nation, not a race. The same holds true for First Nations. For example, the leader of the Mohawk Warrior Society for many years, Paul Delaronde, is not less Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) than anybody else in his community for having blond hair. So is Ronald Cross ("Lasagna"), regardless of his Italian mother, because the Haudenausonee (Iroquois) see him as one of them.

The Agenda Of The B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition

It is obvious that Stephen Harper is just parroting the B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition which has been at this game for 14 years. Their disregard for the law, when they engaged in an illegal fishery, ultimately led to the judgement of the BC Court of Appeals. Strange bed fellows for a Prime Minister whose government is otherwise trumpeting the need for respect of the law and to make its application more severe!

The B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition is contemplating an appeal of the decision by the British Columbia Court of Appeals. That's not surprising because they've been at this for as long as there's been a native-only commercial salmon fishery. Their very name evokes the image of salmon fishers struggling for a living while in reality they make an incredible amount of money in a very short time in most seasons. The market price of licences is one indication.
Through licence buybacks and licensing policy reforms, Ottawa cut the fishing fleet in half in the 1990s. In 1988, [Dept of Fisheries] DFO estimated the capital investment in vessels and equipment for the salmon fleet was about $777 million (in 2003 dollars). By 2003, the capital investment in the entire fishing fleet for all species was estimated to be $286 million.

However, the decrease in the capital value of vessels and equipment was offset by the soaring capital value of licences and quota for most commercial fisheries. DFO policies that gave “windfall profits” to some fishermen and allowed for the consolidation and leasing of licences and quota, tax incentives and growing demand for allocations from First Nations and recreational fishermen, all contributed to an inflationary trend in licence and quota prices. Between 1994 and 2002, the prices of troll and gillnet salmon licences doubled while catches declined. ... By 2003, the capital value of licences and quotas reached $1.8 billion. Vessels and equipment now make up only 14 percent of the total capitalization in the B.C. fishing industry. In the past, the problem was too many fishermen chasing too few fish, but today it has become too much money chasing too few fish.

Many of these licenses were purchased to be transferred to First Nations communities. It appears the non-native fisher(wo)men didn't fare so badly. Others were sold to non-native fishermen who want to make the money to pay for them and this is partly the source of the frictions between the different groups in this fishery.

Native Fishing Rights And The Supreme Court

If he B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition appeals the judgement to the Supreme Court it is the repetition of an old game for native communities: They have to spend an incredible amount of scarce resources to obtain what is legally their's through court judgements often at the highest level. The Supreme Court dealt with native fishing rights in several cases starting with the R. v. Sparrow in 1990. The dispute had its origin with charges against Musqueam fishers for violating net length regulations. The Supreme Court agreed with the Musqueam, who had argued they had an Aboriginal right to fish based on their long history of harvesting fish near the mouth of the Fraser River, albeit with some qualifications. This case dealt with the food fishery, a right Canada had tried to deny after it had accepted it for a long time. The Supreme Court did not indicate where an Aboriginal right to a commercial fishery might fit in. It dealt with that some years later in a number of cases.

The Court ruled on three cases in 1996 that became known as the Vander Peet trilogy. In each case, Canada had charged Aboriginal fishers who had caught fish for sale without a commercial fishing licence. The Aboriginal defendants argued that they had an Aboriginal right to a commercial fishery and that the restrictions infringed that right. In R. v. Vander Peet, the Supreme Court outlined the test that a First Nation must meet to establish an Aboriginal right to a commercial fishery. The Court held that commercial fishing must have been an integral part of Aboriginal culture before European contact. The Sto:lo Nation, whose traditional territory includes much of the Fraser Valley and for whom salmon were an integral part of their culture and economy, had not established an Aboriginal right to a commercial salmon fishery according to this case. In R. v. Gladstone, however, the Supreme Court held that the Heiltsuk Nation have an Aboriginal right to a commercial herring spawn-on-kelp fishery. But it also ruled that there are conditions when Canada might justifiably infringe an Aboriginal right to a commercial fishery including to allocate the fishery among other users. On the East Coast in R. v. Marshall, the Supreme Court interpreted an 18th century treaty between the Mi’kmaq signed with the British as guaranteeing the right to fish not only for food, but also to support a moderate livelihood.

Department Of Fisheries' Management Role

Greed and racism has permeated the BC salmon fishery from its earliest days after the Europeans arrived. Natives have been blamed for taking too many fish or endangering the species for almost as long as records exist.

The B.C. Fisheries Survival Coalition won't tell you that 95 percent of the returning salmon are taken by trolling, gill netters, seine fishing boats and recreational fisheries before the natives-only fishery even gets started. But the Prime Minister sees a problem with five percent of the fish, not all of which are taken by natives, posing a danger to the very survival of the species, according to his rhetoric. DOF (now called Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans) is partly responsible for the collapse of the cod fishery off Newfoundland; politicans share the responsibility by not accepting the warnings of scientists. Incidentally ever since the 200-mile Exclusive Fishing Zone was unilaterally declared in 1977 DOF also administered 95 percent of the fish. The "total allowable catch" (TAC) it authorised were substantially above sustainable levels. In that case the collapse was blamed on "foreign overfishing", who were allowed to catch five percent of the total, not on Canadian overfishing of the 95 per cent of stocks.

DOF is responsible for managing salmon stocks. Fisheries managers first allocate a portion of returning sockeye salmon to meet annual escapement goals (the number of fish returning to their home stream to spawn) and then the remaining fish are allocated to harvesting by First Nations, commercial and recreational fisheries. Reliable escapement data is a key requirement for effective management of sockeye salmon.

But the data often is anything but reliable. The pre-season forecast, which is used to fix escapement goals, is subject to many variables and there are wide ranges of estimates in varying degrees of probability. Then there is the "counting" of the actual fish returning at Mission and the final determination of how many fish are thought to have made it to their spawning grounds.. This is a complex process taking many variables into consideration and it is subject to a number of problems. Its "accuracy" (actually it is a range of estimates and "final" numbers after the season) is questionable at times.

It appears that the en route mortality, in particular, experiences wide variations. For instance, in 2000 and 2001, the en route mortality rate of true laterun sockeye was estimated at approximately 90%.

Echoes Of The Past

The Fraser Report of 1994 stated that it was impossible to pinpoint the exact cause for the disappearance of, supposedly, more than one million sockeye salmon from the Fraser River in 1994. (I wrote 'supposedly' because there was much debate at the time whether this number is an exaggeration.) However, illegal fishing by native and non-native fishermen due to a lack of monitoring by federal Fisheries Officers was identified as a major cause of the missing fish. Ottawa was severely criticized for cutting back enforcement staff and for not making sure existing staff had enough power to enforce regulations. Apparently the Fraser River sockeye fishery came within twelve hours of being destroyed and one has to wonder whether the standard TAC of eighty per cent of returning salmon is a wise one. Dave Schultz, salmon coordinator with the DFO said in 1993: “No matter how exact our science or excellent our management becomes, we are still dealing with creatures of the wild. Salmon are unpredictable and will remain that way.” Wouldn’t it be wiser to err on the side of caution? Of the 16.5 million sockeye that returned to the Fraser 13 million were killed in commercial, native and sports fisheries allowing barely enough through to seed the spawning beds. Can this be called conservation minded? In a news conference The Hon. John Fraser stated: “We lost the Atlantic cod, at least for many, many years, and most of the public believes that that is a national Canadian scandal. Most of the public here wonders whether we are on the verge of doing the same with the salmon.”

The BC Fishery Survival Coalition released a document on the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS), which was in its third year, consisting of a collection of DFO memos and reports a day before publication of the Fraser Report. One such memo claimed that the AFS was “out of control”, another that the “general public believe that the fishery officers have no enforcement power or control” over AFS activities. Indeed, it seems to be a common belief that natives put the salmon fishery in jeopardy. The BC Fishery Survival Coalition has always opposed the commercialization of the native food fishery, notwithstanding the fact that their quota comes from the commercial licenses bought back by the federal government often at prices above market value. They called the AFS the “biggest crisis to hit the BC commercial fishing industry”.

Stolen Lands. Native Rights.

All of British Columbia with the exception of the 14 so-called Douglas Treaties, the Nisga'a Treaty of 2000 and the northeast corner of the province included in Treaty 8 is unceded native land. This is in violation of the Royal Proclamation of 1763. This Proclamation "reserved" lands west of the Appalachian height of land for the Indians as their Hunting Grounds and the Crown gave itself the exclusive right to negotiate cessions of Indian title.

Salmon made some first nations very prosperous in precontact times and they have always traded it. It also appears likely that Douglas expected Aboriginal peoples to continue their commercial fisheries. Even in the mid-19 th century the Hudson's Bay Co. relied on fish caught by Aboriginal peoples, primarily salmon, as a source of food for its labour force and as one of its principal export products from the western edge of North America. Douglas wrote that Aboriginal peoples should have the right to conduct their ‘fisheries as formerly.’ United States’ courts have interpreted contemporary treaties in what is now Washington State as dividing the commercial fisheries equally between the American Indian tribes and the non-Native fishing community.

After over a century of denying First Nations people had any legitimate claim to their homelands, the Provincial and Federal Governments declared they were ready to enter into negotiations with First Nations in 1993. First Nations in BC were given an additional boost by the 1997 Delgamuukw decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. This decision finally clarified the scope of Aboriginal title that First Nations people have over their traditional lands. Aboriginal title is a sui generis collective right in land and it is based in pre-existing systems of Aboriginal law, and can be proved, by showing use and occupancy of the land, among other things.

The commercial fisheries remain sites of continuing conflict, but there have been few developments in the case law since the Vander Peet trilogy. If anything, the conflict appears likely to escalate before a resolution is found. The resolution may come in the form of a court decision or through negotiated agreements and treaties.

Land Claims: Canada's Dark Shadow Of The Past

Of course negotiated agreements would be preferable to litigation. How else can one interpret Harper's letter to the editor but as an attempt to escalate the conflict? Or, at the very least, to cater to a narrow political constituency in preference to solving ancient wrongs. The AFS is an important tool for economic development in communities who - as everybody knows - are among the poorest in Canada. The Prime Minister wants to take this away. He should look at the shameful record Canada has in not resolving numerous outstanding legal claims native communities have against this country and concentrate government's efforts towards solutions not the creation of more problems. One of the most important questions in this context is: When will our government come as clean as possible with the injustices inflicted upon First Nations in the past? There are about 800 specific claims and an unknown number of comprehensive claims pending or in the making. The former are resolved at the rate of about 20 each year, with 55 new cases filed in the same time period.

Canada's Auditor General reported in 1998 about the state of comprehensive claims:

As of June 1998, there were 70 claims in various stages of negotiation and pre-negotiation discussion, or with accepted statements of intent to negotiate, including 52 in British Columbia and 18 outside B.C. There are 123 bands who have registered their intention to proceed under the British Columbia Treaty Commission process. ...Final settlements can take more than 20 years to reach.

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples concluded that the process is not working at all. Stephen Harper's letter is not a constructive step in the right direction and I'm willing to bet the Supreme Court will decide it that way eventually. That is after First Nations have spent more substantial sums for litigation, money that could be better used for housing, sanitation or economic development.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Events which happened on July 21st

BBC pages include video links:

1954: Peace deal ends Indo-China war (announced the BBC prematurely)

1969: America Lands Man on the Moon

1994: Labour chooses Blair

2005: Tube chaos after more blasts

Geov Parrish: This Day In Radical History --- July 21st

Things that happened on this day that you never had to memorize in school

1306: Philip "The Fair's" secret commission results in the arrest of and confiscation of all the goods and money of, every Jew in France.

1542: Inquisition established in Rome.

1571: Inquisition created for the Portuguese navy.

1832: Fleeing Black Hawk (Sauk/Fox tribes) overtaken by Gen. J.D. Henry; 68 Indians killed.

1877: Militia in Pittsburgh kill 26 striking railroad workers; workers burn yards, drive troops from city, as what originally had been a wildcat strike by West Virginia railroard workers turns into a wave of nationwide strikes and confrontations with police.

1878: Publication of "Eight Hours," the most popular labor song until "Solidarity Forever" is published by the IWW.

1880: Compressed air explosion, kills 20 workers on Hudson River tunnel, New York City.

1884: 120,000 London workers protest to demand election reform.

1896: National Association of Colored Women formed.

1916: U.S. Marines land in Haiti. Probably "protecting U.S. interests."

1930: Twenty-four hour general strike in Montevideo, Uruguay, protesting imprisonment of anarchists.

1942: Eight die as coal waste heap slides in river valley near Oakwood, Virginia.

1954: Geneva Accords signed, freeing Vietnam ("French Indochina") from French colonial rule.

1964: IWW blueberry pickers' strike begins near Grand Junction, Michigan.

1967: Death of Albert Luthuli, nonviolent freedom campaigner, South Africa.

1976: First outbreak of "Legionnaire's Disease" kills 29 in Philadelphia.

1981: Creationism law requiring equal teaching with evolution passed, Louisiana.

1983: In Sao Paulo, Brazil, 800,000 take part in general strike against austerity measures.

1983: Martial law lifted in Poland.

1984: First documented case of a robot killing a human in U.S., Jackson, Mississippi, plant.

1992: Fifteen thousand in silent vigil after murder of anti-Mafia leader, Milan, Italy.

For other days and months go to:

This Day In Radical History

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The CBC invents the "news"!!!

The CBC rewrites history only days after events happened!

I can't get away from this; it's too outrageous.

The top quote was published on the CBC website on July 18 th 2006

The military operation started seven days ago after an attack by the Lebanese-based militant organization Hezbollah killed eight Israeli soldiers. Two soldiers were seized in the raid. (Unfortunately the link doesn't work anymore. CBC has reworked their entire site and the url to the front page will lead to whatever is the frontpage at the time of clicking on it.)

Here's what really happened:
The Israeli army said three soldiers were killed in the initial raid, and four others were killed when their tank hit a land mine in southern Lebanon. An eighth soldier was killed as an Israeli force tried to get to the tank, which was part of a ground invasion aimed at rescuing the captured soldiers.

Monday, July 17, 2006

July 17th in 1976 and 1979

I did have a bit of a rocky start with my blog after all.

After procrastinating for weeks I thought the story of the girls at the UN conference would make a good beginning. (Actually I still believe it was. It's not sensational but it is about several young girls standing up for their rights. Against the UN, of all organisations.)

I didn't really want to have a blog writing about the same as is said much more eloquently all over the web. But I didn't have (and still don't have) a clear sense of direction. Maybe I should put my texts on my website and keep blog entries short?

Then I got sidetracked to the CBC (with Conrad Black in parantheses).

What it really boils down to is an incredible anger that has been building up in me at least since 2003.

The barbarity of many acts in the last three and a half years is beyond description and even after having "witnessed" the crimes in Vietnam, as I have through the media, I find what is happening around us, almost unbelievable.

Human beings do not seem to matter any more.

We are surrounded by liars.

We are surrounded by war mongers.

We are surrounded by greedy corporations.

And it is obviously the powerful who are dictating the agenda.

Yet it is difficult to tell at times if the media we're paying attention to is telling the truth or is a tool of propaganda for some interest or another. Even the CBC pretends to have some kind of balance.

On the other hand, in many fundamental ways, it is quite easy to see that a massive wave of war crimes is taking place by simply looking at a few pictures.

In the end it is, once again, the hate mongers who win.

I shall try to move in other planned directions of this blog. I did mention film among my interests and it has been on my mind for sometime to put up a list of my favourite films and videos.

I'm working on it and shall post it soon.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

CBC: A Bit of Background

The CBC was created during the government of Conservative R. B. Bennet following the 1929 report of the Royal Commission on Radio Broadcasting. The reason was to ensure that there would be more Canadian content in broadcast journalism and to reduce the risk of Canadian Broadcasting becoming assimilated by the American networks. Operations began on November 2, 1936. CBC-TV started broadcasting on September 6, 1952.

Bennett realised that a public presence in Canadian radio was essential if it was not to become an exclusively profit-driven enterprise dominated by US commercial interests. The Radio Corporation of America, for instance, took the position that the best thing to do was to treat Canada as just another part of the U.S. market and service it out of New York. (Manera, Tony A Dream Betrayed, p.14) The CBC has been a symbol of Canadian pride and independence and together with institutions like the National Film Board, Telefilm and the Canada Council it has done much to nurture Canadian culture and identity.

Former CBC president Tony Manera illustrates the difference between private and public braodcasters by juxtaposing their different interests. In his book A Dream Betrayed he wrote: "When CanWest chairman and CEO Izzy Asper acquired a 20 percent interest in New Zealand's TV3 in 1991, he asked the employees to tell him what kind of business they were in. Someone from the news department offered the view that they were in the business of making sure that their audiences received the most carefully researched news and information possible. ... Izzy Asper told him that he was wrong and proceeded to set him and his coworkers straight. Their business was selling soap. ... Public broadcasting [on the other hand] is about nation-building. For commercial broadcasting, audiences represent consumers to be delivered to advertisers; for public broadcasting, audiences are made up of citizens whose interests must be served." ( pp. 13-4)

Most Canadians are aware that the CBC has changed a lot in the years since the Mulroney government and then the Liberals drastically slashed government funds allocated to the corporation. The money is meant to help it play a role private business could not do because it includes worthwhile endavours which will never yield a profit. What little Canadian programming (other than news) Global and CTV have is usually subsidised through Telefilm or provinical government grants and tax incentives. So perhaps even that might not exist if it wasn't for those resources.

It was predictable that the Tories would slash CBC funding. The Liberals on the other hand promised in their "Red Book" of the 1993 election "stable multi-year financing for national cultural institutions such as the Canada Council and the CBC. This will allow national cultural institutions to plan effectively" they said on page 89. Paul Martin was a co-author of the pamphlet. (Manera, A Dream Betrayed, p.11) Just like their promise to abolish the GST it was a lie and it was under Martin in particular that the CBC was hit hard. Almost as if he had been out to prove that he can cut better than the Tories he eliminated about 234 million dollars from the operating budget of the CBC in the fiscal years 1996 - 98. (The previous url is for 1996 to 2005. Years before that are at the Vancouver Public Library.) Cuts to capital funding and (presumably) the fact that CBC was made responsible for the cost of Radio Canada International, which used to be paid by the Foreign Affairs Department, raise the total of cuts to $ 400 million over the last decade according to CBC President Robert Rabinovitch.

After 1998 followed several years with little change and it wasn't until fiscal 2003, when John Manley was Finance Minister, that the corporation got a substantial increase of $ 97 million. When Paul Martin became Prime Minister and Ralph Goodale Finance Minister it was back to austerity for the CBC even though there were substantial fiscal surpluses by that time. In the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005 the government's contribution to operating funds was about 936.8 million dollars. Adjusted for inflation the 1994 government operating funds contribution, i.e. before the massive Liberal cuts happened, would be approximately 1.2 billion or about 28 percent higher. Canadian per capita income, adjusted for inflation, increased by 26 percent in the same time period making the discrepancy much worse. It's also interesting to note that Canada is 22nd out of 26 OECD countries in per capita public funding for public broadcasting. Only Portugal, Poland, New Zealand and the United States invest less in public ownership of broadcasting, according to Professor Marc Raboy of McGill University.

I remember a time when reruns happened in the summer. Now most of the CBC broadcasts other than news and sports seem to be repeats. Even movies often get repeated within relatively short time periods and that in spite of the vast and magnificent NFB library. The CBC still produces some excellent programs but they are few and far in between compared to what was offered decades ago when the country had a much lower GNP and therefore less resources available.

Has the CBC lost its importance to most Canadians because of the 400 channel universe and the so-called convergence of new technologies the digital revolution has brought about? Is it perhaps because of a decline in the quality of programming over the last two decades? Or is the world getting more uniform because of globalisation making individual cultures and hence the CBC less important?

The only ones complaining about the CBC seem to be those who would like to abolish it. There don't seem to be too many complaints by those who would love to see a thriving public broadcaster offering quality programming that is rarley found among private broadcasters, e.g. the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting.

And I would love to see a CBC in good shape, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

CBC News

The CBC. Again.

As much as I dislike the Conservatives I am more and more inclined every day I watch CBC News to vote for Stephen Harper if he promises to abolish the CBC. Of course it would be preferable if the 800 + million the CBC gets in Parliamentary appropriations per year were spent on community based broadcasting but we wouldn't get that even if the NDP formed the government. In any case, these are just words of frustration and anger. I'd rather vote for the Rhinocerus Party than the Dinosaurs headed by Harper.

I am disgusted with the propaganda machine our public broadcaster has become. Not only with respect to the Middle East, but especially with that. The condescension the network shows towards those viewers who are still tuning in is hard to describe. (And that is true with respect to programming in general, not only news. Otherwise their main offerings wouldn't be ancient reruns of Frazier, Simpsons and stale satire in the form of old 20 Minutes episodes and other comedy programs etc..) Once upon a time - a long time ago - the quality was there but it's gone.

One of the best reporters the CBC has, Neil McDonald, was removed as Middle East correspondent - rumour goes - because he was too sympathetic towards the Palestinians. (I think he just had a bit of balance in his reporting.) Adrienne Arsenault, another extremely competent reporter, inherited his role. Now she seems to be gone. Laurie Graham, the present CBC correspondent in the area, has aroused my anger for some time now with her constant reference to Quassam rockets and not much about the disastrous impact of Israel's response. Until tonight video to support her reporting consisted of a couple of small holes in the ground and even tonight's footage wasn't very impressive. A damaged car with lots of small holes which look more like the result of machine gun fire than a rocket. Two small holes in the ground. Some small debris lying in the street. Certainly not what I 'd expect from a rocket attack. Also, her attire was more in line with a dinner date than something appropriate for a dangerous area where rockets could hit any time.

A business was destroyed Ms Graham claimed. Why she had absolutely no pictures is mind boggling since (unlike the noon broadcast) a camera man accompanied her. A beach is empty because people are afraid, she said. That is of course possible but is proof of nothing. A broken balcony rail didn't look in any way like the devastation Israel's weapons caused in Lebanon and Gaza. Ms Graham and the newsreaders on CBC routinely quote the Israeli government and present their statements as if they were the truth. We all know that politicians usually say the truth, don't we? It makes one sick.

The criminal attack on Beirut's airport wasn't even mentioned until the evening news. (The BBC had lots of reader comments in the morning about this criminal terrorist act.) One reader asked if it was OK for Great Britain to bomb Ireland blowing up bridges and killing civilians indiscriminately in response to an IRA bombing attack in London. Or if the UK would invade France in response to some homemade rockets fired on Dover from Calais. Predictably there is also a lot of anti-semitic crap among the comments but the site is worth visiting for people who want a little more balance in the coverage of this unfolding tragedy. Check out the image gallery showing the destruction caused by Israel here and the video links here.

I don't recall the CBC giving much coverage to the criminal (in terms of international law) disproportionate attack on Gaza. The collective punishment of people who are not at all connected with the Quassam attacks or the kidnapping of the soldiers and the killing of women and children in response to the actions of Hamas or Hezbollah.

Gideon Levy a columnist for Haaretz, a mainstream Israeli newspaper, speaks about facts CBC reporters should be exploring. He wrote:

" `They started,' will be the routine response to anyone who tries to argue, for example, that a few hours before the first Qassam fell on the school in Ashkelon, causing no damage, Israel sowed destruction at the Islamic University in Gaza.

Israel is causing electricity blackouts, laying sieges, bombing and shelling, assassinating and imprisoning, killing and wounding civilians, including children and babies, in horrifying numbers, but `they started.' ...

We are allowed to bomb anything we want and they are not allowed to launch Qassams. ... the majority thinks that all the justice is on our side. Like in a schoolyard fight, the argument about who started is Israel's winning moral argument to justify every injustice.

So, who really did start? And have we `left Gaza?'

Israel left Gaza only partially, and in a distorted manner. The disengagement plan, which was labeled with fancy titles like "partition" and "an end to the occupation," did result in the dismantling of settlements and the Israel Defense Forces' departure from Gaza, but it did almost nothing to change the living conditions for the residents of the Strip.

Gaza is still a prison and its inhabitants are still doomed to live in poverty and oppression. Israel closes them off from the sea, the air and land, except for a limited safety valve at the Rafah crossing. They cannot visit their relatives in the West Bank or look for work in Israel, upon which the Gazan economy has been dependent for some 40 years. Sometimes goods can be transported, sometimes not.

Gaza has no chance of escaping its poverty under these conditions. Nobody will invest in it, nobody can develop it, nobody can feel free in it. Israel left the cage, threw away the keys and left the residents to their bitter fate. Now, less than a year after the disengagement, it is going back, with violence and force.

We promised to free prisoners and didn't keep the promise. We supported democratic elections and then boycotted the legally elected leadership, confiscating funds that belong to it, and declaring war on it.

We started. We started with the occupation, and we are duty-bound to end it, a real and complete ending. We started with the violence. There is no violence worse than the violence of the occupier, ...

The West Bank is still under the boot of occupation, the settlements are flourishing, and every limply extended hand for an agreement, including that of Ismail Haniyeh, is immediately rejected. And after all this, if someone still has second thoughts, the winning answer is promptly delivered: "They started." They started and justice is on our side, while the fact is that they did not start and justice is not with us."

The respected analyst Gwynne Dyer points out what the reasons might be for the death and destruction Israel is sowing in the Middle East. He wrote:

"Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the soldier who was taken hostage, is no more to blame for the mess he inherited than any other 19-year-old Israeli or Palestinian, and he certainly does not deserve to die. But it is hard to see how blowing up the Gaza Strip’s main power-generating station or arresting eight cabinet ministers and 34 legislators of the democratically elected government of the occupied Palestinian territories in simultaneous night raids on their homes furthers the cause of Cpl. Shalit’s freedom. There is no sense of proportion here."

Quoting Gideon Levy he continues: “It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament. A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization."

Israel’s past offers enough parallels that its government should and probably does understand that it has a choice: to ignore the extremists and talk about some kind of peace deal with the mainstream or to use the extremists as an excuse not to talk to the mainstream either. It has chosen the latter option, and the current, vastly disproportionate Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip are the evidence for it.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has big plans for imposing a “peace settlement” and new frontiers on the Palestinians—frontiers that will keep all the bigger Jewish settlement blocks (plus all of Jerusalem, of course) within Israel. International political correctness requires that he negotiate this with the Palestinians, but he knows perfectly well that they could never agree to such a terrible deal. Why should they? So he must find a way of demonstrating that negotiations are impossible.

Olmert knows (even if Washington doesn’t) that destroying the Hamas government will not bring the “moderates” back to power. It will just create a power vacuum in the occupied territories that will be filled by all kinds of crazies with guns. Ideal circumstances for carrying out Olmert’s plans, wouldn’t you say?"
Have a look at the many press realeases of B'tselem, an Israeli Human Rights group and the one about the killing of 9 members of the Abu Selmiyeh family in the bombing of Gaza in particular. B'tselem has "grave suspicion of a war crime" in this case. If you visit their site have a look at the wealth of information about the conflict that can be found there.

Peace Now called for the cessation of the bombing of Gaza three weeks ago pointing out that it plays into the hands of the terrorists and does nothing about solving the "Quassam problem".

Six human rights groups petitioned the Israeli High Court July 11, 2006 demanding that the crossings in Gaza be opened to allow for the steady and regular supply of fuel, food, medicine, and equipment, including spare parts needed to operate generators. Read about the catastrophic effects this blockade has on innocent civilians including women and children.

Don't expect to hear much about this on the CBC. They rather focus on the plight of a little boy who was unable to sleep and preferred to show some UN relief being distributed to people in Gaza just as they spent several minutes dealing with the minor damage the Quassam rockets caused and mere moments showing images of the terrorist attack on Beirut's airport and the destruction of a highway in southern Lebanon.

The CBC also does not usually report on peace demonstrations by Israelis. Only a few hours after the start of the attack on Lebanon, 200 peace activists gathered in front of the Ministry of Defense to protest against it. But they did devote an enormous amount of time on the staged demonstrations of the settlers who did not want to leave Gaza. To report on Israelis demonstrating for peace would be admitting that Israel is doing something wrong, wouldn't it?

The CBC has no balance in its "news" reports (Afghanistan and Iraq are other examples) and no concern for the viewers. It seems to be there mainly for the benefit of its employees and it is no surprise that there is no critical news coverage. It might upset the apple cart and the CBC's employees might be looking for work elsewhere.

Added Friday July 14th:

Haaretz reported today:

Two people were moderately hurt and eight sustained light injuries after a Katyusha rocket hit a residential building in Safed on Friday afternoon. The building sustained heavy damage.

Channel 1 TV footage showed heavy damage to the building and its surroundings. Smashed windows and wrecked cars were seen on the street that was strewn with cement fallout.

Early Friday evening, one man sustained light injuries when a Katyusha rocket landed in the Galilee village of Yesod Hama'alah. Earlier in the day, casualties were reported in the upper Galilee village of Peki'in after four rockets landed there, as well as in the community of Hatzor Haglilit where two people were lightly wounded. Three Katyusha rockets hit Kiryat Shmona on Friday afternoon. No casualties were reported in the strike.

Hezbollah continued firing Katyusha rockets on the north of the country Friday, a day after two Israelis were killed by rocket fire and some 120 were wounded when scores of Katyusha rockets rained down across northern Israel.

On Friday morning and afternoon, Hezbollah fired Katyusha rockets at Kibbutz Baram in the Upper Galilee, at Safed, Rosh Pina, and also at the northern town of Nahariya. Two people were lightly wounded in Nahariya and one woman was treated for shock in Safed.

Several rockets that landed in open areas near Nahariya sparked fires.

"moderately hurt light injuries": Compare that to the death toll and destruction among Palestinians.

"a day after two Israelis were killed by rocket fire and some 120 were wounded; casualties were reported; two people were lightly wounded ":

Why are there no images on the web or in print media of the dead and just what were the wounds of those 120? Haaretz has a picture of the physical damage. Why not of the wounded and casualties?

How much of this is true and how much is propaganda?

That's difficult to say given the past record of lies and deception on the part of Israel.

The facts speak for themselves:

At least 55 Lebanese have been killed since Israel began retaliating for the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah guerrillas in a raid across the southern Lebanese border.

One of the dead was a Hezbollah guerilla, the others were civilians.

The image on top of the page is NOT from Haifa. It is not a picture of a Hezbollah trainig camp or even one of their offices. It IS an image of Beirut International Airport on July 14th 2006. It IS the result of Israeli terrorism.

It's 8:30 am and I "can't wait" to watch the CBC News at noon. Their sensational/hysterical coverage which is likely to come is kind of predictable.

It would be nice if I was wrong.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Scrap the CBC!

Not long ago I would have never thought I'd say something like that as the CBC used to be my preferred broadcaster and I hardly ever watched the news on any other network. But in recent years the quality of the CBC in general and CBC News in particular has been going in one direction only: Down.

Look at the example of the story of an alleged plot to blow up the Holland Tunnel in NYC. I first came across it at the Times website yesterday morning. Reading the article it became immediately clear to me that there was absolutely nothing of substance to it and that it is an outrageous fabrication. My reaction was one of disbelief that terrorists would discuss their plans in an internet chatroom (or even by email) because as everybody knows intelligence services survey these.

The CBC nevertheless had it at the top of its news at noon prominently figuring Mayor Bloomberg of New York and others saying what a wonderful scoop the Intelligence services had landed. It has since continued to proliferate among "news" outlets of the world although many do repeat that "no attack was imminent." Also, it appears that somehow "intelligence" services learned to become mind readers. Mark J. Mershon, the special agent in charge of the FBI's New York office, claimed that "they were about to go to a phase where they would attempt to surveil targets, establish a regimen of attack and acquire the resources necessary to effectuate the attacks, and at that point I think it's entirely appropriate to take it down" to quote the New York Times repeating the non-story a day later.

A scoop?

What codswallop!

It didn't take long for a critical piece to appear on the web. Rolling Stone pointed out at 1:19 pm EST that it was old news and in a later update linking to ABC News that the "ringleader" Assem Hammoud had been in custody for three months.

The CBC nevertheless repeated the same story on Canada Now.

To expect a critical attitude from the CBC is unfortunately like hoping a fish will survive outside water. One can find more critical analysis of the Mid East conflict, for instance, in Israeli sources (often including quite conservative ones) and human rights organisations or Peace Now are just about never mentioned in this context by the CBC. In their glowing reports from Washington they never even intimate that many in the current leadership are apparent war criminals for violations of the UN Charter, Geneva Agreements and the US War Crimes Act. (For those who have not been able to see that for themselves a recently published book reprints a number of articles from quite respectable sources: In The Name Of Democracy edited by Brecher, Jeremy, Cutler, Jill and Smith, Brendan.) With respect to domestic economic and social policies the CBC is much too timid to criticise the government of the day. Now the CBC brass has decided that Canada should be part of the phony US war on terror, it seems. That's the only explanation I can come up with.

The CBC has become little more than an instrument of propaganda rationalising the policies of the day and a promoter of (mainly) professional sports. The Mother Corp's response to the drastic budget cuts under Mulroney, subsequently amplified by Paul Martin when he was Finance Minister, was not to axe some of the numerous positions of Vice President but to gut programming relying increasingly on old episodes of political satire (This Hour; Air Farce) based on old "news", ancient reruns of Frazier and The Simpsons. Now the CBC is acting as if we were already part of the USA and their fear mongering propaganda.

As Rolling Stone pointed out the "leaking" of this story happened on the anniversary of the July 7 bombing in London and there remain only four months until the US mid-term elections. "Karl Rove & Co are once again playing the Fear Card in an election year. Anyone who doubts that simply hasn't been paying attention for the last five years," they wrote.

Or is just diffusing propaganda.

Why bother fighting to save the CBC when it is not worth saving?